A BRAND of Scotch whisky that was advertised during the “Mad Men” years in the trade publication Advertising Age is reviving a product from the era. The goal is to capitalize on renewed interest in Scotch and other brown spirits that is attributable partly to — yes, the popularity of “Mad Men.”
The brand is Glenfiddich, the single malt Scotch sold by William Grant & Sons, which is trying to take advantage of an unexpected trend among American drinkers: an upturn in sales for Scotch, bourbon and other liquors that are known in the industry as brown goods. The revival is being attributed not only to the success of “Mad Men,” which highlights the cocktail culture of the 1960s, but also to a pattern among consumers ages 21 to 34 to order fewer drinks made with gin and vodka and more drinks like Manhattans, Rusty Nails, whiskey sours, Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs and single malts on the rocks.
Glenfiddich is bringing into the United States a limited-edition product based on the original single malt — then called straight malt — that it introduced in this country in 1963, which helped establish the single-malt category among American drinkers who had been buying blended Scotch. The bottles offer a reproduced version of the original recipe, the distiller says, and are labeled Glenfiddich the Original Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
The retro Scotch is being promoted with a campaign that includes a reproduction of an introductory ad from 1963, which carried the headline “Sit when you drink Glenfiddich, you may never stand for a blended Scotch again.” The text of the 51-year-old ad explained what a straight malt was — “Glenfiddich is straight. Unblended. A single malt whisky every drop from the same distillery.” — and described it as “a man’s drink mellowed 10 years.” The original ad concluded with a flourish: “Discriminate. Elevate. Grow up to Glenfiddich.”
The campaign, with a budget estimated at $1 million, also includes digital ads; a presence in social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #Glenfiddich63; events in Los Angeles and New York; and a public relations effort handled by the Susan Magrino Agency. Momentum Worldwide is the creative agency for the campaign, and the Media Kitchenis the media agency.
The campaign is another example of initiatives by brands to play up their heritage and history by creating appeals centered on authenticity that are aimed at the so-called millennial generation, which typically perceives products with roots more positively than newcomers without pedigrees.
That is, for instance, why the Anheuser-Busch division of Anheuser-Busch InBev is introducing a limited edition of Budweiser beer with bottles bearing reproductions of old-time labels and sold inside vintage wooden crates. “The pillars and foundations of our brands are their stories that stand the test of time,” said Peter Gordon, a director of Grant whose father, Sandy Grant Gordon, and uncle, Charles Grant Gordon, introduced Glenfiddich straight malt in 1963.
“And there are so many levels of detail” in those stories, he added, for those consumers who are interested in learning more about what they drink.
The search for authenticity “is part of the reason for the current wave” of renewed interest in single malts, Mr. Gordon said, along with the boom in wine, which was initially deemed a reason that Scotch sales “took a big hit” in popularity.
“Learning how to appreciate red wine — how it matures, ages, the types of barrels — allowed people to ‘get’ single malts,” he added.
Those at Momentum who worked on reproducing the introductory ad — depicting a bespectacled man at a bar pouring himself a glass of Glenfiddich — sought to hew as closely as possible to the original while adding modern touches like the brand’s web address.
“It was a moment of advertising archaeology,” said Kevin Gosselin, vice president and group creative director at Momentum, part of the McCann Worldgroup division of the Interpublic Group of Companies. “We were looking at the original image under a loupe, examining the grain of the wood of the bar, the number of glasses behind him, the cut of his suit, his glasses.”
The new model, who looks as if he could pass for an adman in “Man Men,” was even given a pocket watch for the vest of his three-piece suit, Mr. Gosselin said, because the original model had one.
“We were inspired” to recreate the 1963 ad “by the fact that Glenfiddich recreated the liquid,” he added. “It was cool.”
Grant imports to the United States from 100,000 to 150,000 nine-liter cases of Glenfiddich each year, and the brand is third in America among single malts by volume, behind Glenlivet and Macallan. Grant plans to sell in this country 2,000 cases of Glenfiddich the Original; each bottle has a suggested retail price of $99.99, compared with a suggested retail price of $39.99 for a bottle of the base-level Glenfiddich.
Glenfiddich and Budweiser are not alone these days in bringing out limited-edition products. In San Francisco last week, Jockey International gave away 2,000 pairs of men’s underwear emblazoned on the rear with “Mad Bum,” the nickname of Madison Bumgarner, the pitcher of the San Francisco Giants who won the Most Valuable Player award for the 2014 World Series after the Giants won. The underwear was part of an endorsement deal that Mr. Bumgarner signed with Jockey, which is running a campaign carrying the theme “Supporting greatness,” by the Droga5 agency.